Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 21
Anakeesta includes a "Chondola" ride with quad
chairs, leading from downtown Gatlinburg,
Tennessee, to Anakeesta Mountain.
You can zip through the trees and even walk among the
treetop canopy at Anakeesta, a new family destination
in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
"It's a real Smoky Mountain experience," says managing partner Bob Bentz. "It's really for the whole family."
Anakeesta takes its name from a Cherokee Indian
word meaning "the place of high ground." The multifaceted, outdoor attraction spreads across 70 acres and
features dual-racing zip lines, each more than 1,000
"Everything we do really involves the mountains,
the trees and the environment," Bentz says. "It's all part
of the experience that we're preparing for our guests."
Perhaps most unique is the 14-minute Chondola
ride, taking visitors up 600 feet from downtown to the
summit of Anakeesta Mountain, using 104 quad chairs
and eight enclosed, six-person gondola cabins. "The reason it's called 'Chondola' is it's a combination of both
chairs and gondola cabins. So we kind of combine the
two words and get 'Chondola,'" Bentz says.
Ultimately, you reach the Firefly Village-with shops
and scenic views. Dining options include baked goodies
and pulled pork plus treats at an ice cream shop.
Anakeesta's treetop canopy walk puts pedestrians 40
feet in the air with passages on 16 hanging bridges-"all
supported by the trees," Bentz says. "You get up where
the birds are, up in the canopy of the trees."
The park also features the Memorial Forest Walk,
paying tribute to the tragedies of the 2016 fires in the
Great Smoky Mountains with an exhibit by photographer Jeremy Cowart.
Guests can sift for treasures in the gem mine. Or take
a log walk to an elevated bird's nest where you learn
how an American goldfinch cultivates its home. Then
navigate a plank walk to a maze and crawl through a
tube net to reach a climbing adventure.
For more: 865-235-2777 / anakeesta.com
-- Joe Tennis
25 Years Ago in Blue Ridge Country
"Before, you could pave one mile of the Blue Ridge Parkway for between $50,000 and $80,000.
Now it's $200,000 per mile . . . We've got a backlog of 150 miles."
-Jim Bentley, then chief of maintenance and engineering for the parkway, as quoted by Tom Wall
in his piece "Is the Parkway Broke?" in the November/December 1992 issue.
(A 2016 report from the National Park Service, titled "Blue Ridge Parkway Road and Bridge
Reconstruction," estimates the current cost of "full-depth paving reclamation" of the nowbacklogged 220 miles at $220 million, with the $1 million per-mile cost including stabilization
of waterways, culverts, headwalls, overlooks and shoulders.)
November/December 2017 21